Emerging from devastation, and last week’s election
“Dude, I’m not even sure what to do with myself anymore. What can I do in the face of all this post-election insanity?” — Scared Steve
The election is over but the crazy will be here to stay. All week long I’ve had a knot in my chest. I’m scared, too. If you’re a fan of blue politics, it’s going to be a tough couple of years with few chances of bright spots. People are already talking about 2018’s midterm elections, but Democrats have to defend Senate seats in some very red places. It’s possible that things could go very wrong very quickly during the coming Republican takeover of the Federal government. But that’s not something I’d be counting on. I was kinda counting on a Hillary Clinton Administration.
The first 100 days of the Trump Administration could be a pretty grim march toward undoing anything you possibly liked about the Obama years. Imagine a Supreme Court with a much more Scalia-like replacement of Justice Scalia. And an 83 year-old Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
If you are interested in resisting the coming Trumpism, you probably already know how to do that. The President-Elect is famously thin-skinned, and the daily protests across this country are getting his goat. Kellyanne Conway of the Trump Campaign said that protesters were getting paid. If any of you are getting paid, please let me know. That sounds like a sweet gig. I would sign up for that.
So march in the street; it will definitely make you feel better. You could give President Trump and his people a chance to run this country better than they ran their campaign. I wouldn’t hold out hope. When Republican government isn’t able to improve the lives of their electoral base, I imagine those people will turn on them hard. They have been massively lied to and a bitter reckoning will be on its way. Who will the Republicans have to scapegoat now? Some lone filibustering Democratic senator? Republicans will have to govern. Something they haven’t had to seriously do for a while.
The first thing you could focus on would be local elections. Republicans are dangerously close to commanding enough state legislatures to hold a Constitutional Congress. If you think one of those would be a ton of fun, good luck. They’ll have us wearing black and white Pilgrim outfits with big buckles everywhere.
I don’t know if we can meme and hashtag our way out of this. I won’t be wearing any safety pins. I will have to prove every day with my actions that I’m not a Trump voter. Ben said Wednesday was the day he’s felt the worst since 9/11. One thing that immediately followed 9/11 was a rise in racism against Muslims. And a temporary gentleness and deference to others. Stores hung American flags in their windows to prove they were pro-American. But people also treated each other a little nicer, for a while. Maybe we should try that.
We must call out the racism, misogyny and bigotry we encounter however we can. Racists are rejoicing. If Trump will not disown them they must be held accountable elsewhere. All this stuff is pretty self-evident. The media will celebrate a Trump presidency as if this had been a normal election with a normal victor and not a dreary and outrageous pander party to the very worst impulses America has to offer.
Chances are Trump will not be able to finish his presidency. He already seems pretty bored. No doubt he will farm out the actual work of being president to the people underneath him. Who all have questionable ethical histories themselves. Sooner or later President Trump will probably cross a line that will get himself in hot water even with his own party. They’d love to be free of him and put someone like Mike Pence in charge. He’s a more reliable Republican. A kinder face for the same policies.
All this stuff has been pretty depressing for me. But not nearly as sad as the murder of one of my co-workers this week. It’s unspeakably devastating, and for me this election stuff has been easy to digest in comparison. Syasia was one of the sweetest people I have ever met. And for her young life to be snuffed out so brutally has shaken me. I don’t understand why bad things happen to wonderful people. Syasia was kind and generous and just tried to make people smile. She made everyone’s life around her better. I will try to learn that from her. I will try to bring those things to the world, too.
What can we do now? I’m not sure. I’m working my way through this, like many others. It’s shocking to find out that maybe America isn’t what we thought it was. And that many in America could be fooled by such an obviously dubious leader. Maybe this is a lesson America has to learn the hard way. We’ve had bad presidents. We’ve had racist, bigoted, misogynist leadership. I thought that was a lesson we’d already learned. I was wrong. We need to learn it again.
I’ve heard lots of people say that they’ll be moving to Canada. I understand that impulse. For the people that stay here and do not agree with the prevailing wave, let’s figure out smart ways to fight this agenda together. Let’s have fun doing it. As bad as we feel right now, change is still possible for us. By organizing, by appealing to the best in what America can be, by voting. I’ll see you out there and I’ll try to make you smile. Like Syasia McBurroughs always made me smile.
Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore.